SERIOUS heavy-tackle threadline reels are becoming more and more common on boats heading out wide to target marlin, tuna and sharks.
This type of fishing has traditionally been the sole domain of large overhead game reels. But over the past few years improvements in drag design, line capacity, construction materials and gearing systems has seen the development of beefed up threadlines that can handle really big fish.
Shimano’s Stella SW series has been at the forefront of this emerging trend. These smooth and powerful top shelf spin reels come in a range of sizes, making them suitable for everything from XOS snapper, big kings, jumbo tuna and even marlin. Up until recently the Stella 20,000SW was the flagship of the range – this reel holds 406m of 80lb braid and boasts a drag rated to 25 kilos. Fished right, it can stop practically anything. But bigger is always better, which is why Shimano has developed the Stella 30,000SW.
Fisho got a sneak peek at this as yet unreleased “super reel” when we were asked to help out with a Shimano video shoot showing the reel in action. There are currently only two 30,000s in the country and both were in the Fisho Bar Crusher last Wednesday when we headed east from Greenwell Point in search of big fish that pulled drag.
Onboard were Shimano’s Adrian “AJ” Mikkelsen, Tak "Jerry" Hatanaka and camera man Rob, together with myself and colleague Chris Yu. A quick stop at the bait grounds saw the tank filled with giant slimies then I pointed the bow east and headed for the famous Banks. The seas were calm but the 3-4 knot current ripping down from the north created white water and pressure waves when it hit the shallow reef. In a southerly wind conditions would have been scary to say the least but with zero breeze we had no worries.
A couple of slimies were bridle rigged up and we started a speedy drift adjacent to the Main Hump. The target was black marlin but I knew that sizable whaler sharks were also in residence. The boys were keen to get anything that pulled serious drag. Chris and I planned to do our best to help out!
I took the opportunity to cast an appreciative eye over the new reels. Boasting a revised colour scheme – an attractive metallic charcoal – and featuring a massive spool, in this case filled with 420m of 24kg monofilament, the new Stellas 30,000s hold approx. 600m of 80lb braid and can handle 20kgs of drag. No one could ever hold that much drag when fighting a fish stand-up but having that pressure in reserve is one of the factors that separates top quality reels like the Stella from the cheaper imitations. At 990 grams, the reels were surprisingly light – I honestly thought they’d be much heavier. Fitted to 50-80lb Ocea spin sticks, the outfits felt balanced and user friendly. Still, this reel is pretty bulky, much bigger than the current 20,000, thus making it more suited, to my mind at least, to trolling and livebaiting as opposed to active casting duties. There are new 14,000, 18,000 and 20,000 Stellas on the way that should prove ideal for spinning, poppering and stickbaiting.
We were halfway through the drift went one of the baits went off. AJ feathered line off the big spool, flipped the bail across and slowly tightened up, allowing the circle hook to lodge in the corner of the fish’s jaw. At this stage we weren’t sure what we’d hooked. A powerful initial run angling towards the surface left us hoping it was a marlin. But there was no jump. Bugger! Odds on we were connected to a big whaler.
AJ cranked up the drag and started putting serious pressure on the fish. It responded by making a series of vicious runs. Line crackled smoothly off the Shimano’s massive spool and the rod tip jerked violently as the fish bored into the rampaging current. Yep, it was a shark – and a decent one at that. While a leaping marlin would have provided for some cool images, these dirty big whalers fight like demons and would certainly put the reel – and poor old AJ – through the wringer. Thirty minutes later a sweaty AJ had a 100kg whaler beaten by the side of the boat. Chris traced the thrashing shark, Rob got his shots and we released the bitie to go terrorise some other hapless marlin fisherman.
The 30,000, along with a very interesting new 6000 and various other sizes in the range, are expected to be launched in the local market towards the middle of the year. There are no details as yet on pricing, nor exactly which models will be sold here.
First – and very limited impressions – of the 30,000 is that it is a true beast of a reel. It will doubtless appeal to anglers targeting marlin and other powerful gamefish like dogtooth and southern bluefin tuna. To my way of thinking, the line capacity, serious drag pressure, ease of use and ability to more actively fight a fish – as opposed to using a traditional overhead reel – make the Stella 30,000SW a viable alternative for heavy-tackle fishos.
Stay tuned for more info on the new Stellas as soon as it becomes available.
In this video Fisho's SA correspondent and Shimano Team member Jamie Crawford, takes you through his process of targeting SA blue-spotted flathead...